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Thursday, 16 June 2016

Walk to the park with mum

In this photo taken on our way to the park mum looks happy enough but it was hard going for her, especially once we hit the grass on the way to the second bench. Mum might be grinning in the photo but she was soon muttering under her breath and groaning with the exertion required. We took about 15 minutes to get to the second bench, and then we sat there for about 25 minutes. We left not because mum was getting cold but because of the lunch to be served, and because of the time it would take to get back inside the nursing home.

On the way back to the nursing home, as we were going down the footpath alongside it, mum ran out of puff completely and I sat her down on the walker. I guided her down the footpath to the gate, then opened it and pushed the loaded walker inside. Then I went up to the entrance and found a wheelchair in a cupboard on the ground floor. I brought it outside and put mum in it, then took her inside and upstairs to the lunch area. I sat her down at a table and went to put away her outside clothes - jacket, scarf, cap and sunglasses - then put away the wheelchair downstairs and went outside to get mum's walker, which I had left near the side gate.

Mum is very frail. Actually, this will probably turn out to be her last unaided walk outside to the park. In future I will be taking her out - but from now on in the wheelchair. Getting to the bench and getting back inside is just a bit too much effort - for her, now - and so it is going to have to be me pushing mum around in a wheelchair from now on. It's just too risky for her. A fall outside at this point would be awful. I can't contemplate how unpromising it would be for her to fall when we are in the park.

But regardless, she is still going. Her right leg - the one that has given her so many problems in the past two months or so - has stayed inert. It is not inflamed and sore. So for the moment things are under control and we can hope that she will keep going indefinitely. Nevertheless it is only realistic to anticipate that the infection will return at some point in the future. The question is when. How long will there be between hospitalisations - when she will receive treatment using vancomycin (pretty much the last antibiotic that works on her)? How long will she have in the nursing home in the interim?

A couple of days ago I spoke with the nursing home's deputy director about these issues. Things that I had already spoken with mum's GP about. We agreed that we would treat mum again next time she needed hospitalisation, and then take it from there. It is the frequency of admission to hospital that is key. How much time does she get that has real quality of life in it, between stints in the hospital? We'll be looking at this as we go down the track.

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